Detroit (AP) - A federal judge on Thursday upheld the authority of the federal government to require everyone to have health insurance, dealing a setback to groups seeking to block the new national health care plan.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed in
But Judge George Caram Steeh in
"Without the minimum coverage provision, there would be an incentive for some individuals to wait to purchase health insurance until they needed care, knowing that insurance would be available at all times," the judge said.
"As a result, the most costly individuals would be in the insurance system and the least costly would be outside it," Steeh said. "In turn, this would aggravate current problems with cost-shifting and lead to even higher premiums."
Julian Davis Mortenson, a
Nonetheless, the Justice Department hailed Steeh's opinion as the first time a "court has considered the merits of any challenge to this law."
"The court found that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable means for Congress to take in reforming our health care system," spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said. "The department will continue to vigorously defend this law in ongoing litigation."
Robert Muise of the
The four individual plaintiffs said they do not have private insurance and object to being forced to buy it. They also fear that any financial penalty paid to the government would be used to pay for abortions.
A decision on whether to dismiss the case is expected by Oct. 14, though the judge said last month that he would probably dismiss only parts of the complaint while letting others go to trial.
There is also a lawsuit pending in
Randy Barnett, who teaches constitutional law at
"This is one judge's opinion. They'll read it," Barnett said. Steeh "accepted the government's argument, the same argument that's being made in front of other judges."